Deutsche Bank Names Volkswagen CFO Witter to Replace Schuetz

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Deutsche Bank AG nominated departing Volkswagen AG Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter to its supervisory board to replace Gerd Alexander Schuetz, whose links to failed payments company Wirecard AG caused an uproar among lawmakers and investors.

Witter, who’s stepping down from the carmaker at the end of June, will stand for election at the annual shareholder meeting on May 27, Deutsche Bank said in a statement Thursday. Schuetz said Wednesday evening that he was giving up the post.

Deutsche Bank Names Volkswagen CFO Witter to Replace Schuetz

Schuetz’s departure removes a headache for Chairman Paul Achleitner, who had criticized the board member over an email sent to former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun encouraging the payments company to go after a newspaper for its critical coverage. Wirecard collapsed in June in Germany’s biggest corporate scandal in recent memory, and investors and lawmakers have criticized Schuetz’s actions and questioned Deutsche Bank’s code of conduct.

Witter played a key role at Volkswagen to help stabilize Europe’s largest automaker after the diesel-emissions scandal. Before taking over as CFO in 2015, he was in charge of VW’s financial services division.

Witter’s “knowledge of the demands of corporate clients and his many years of experience in banking” were reasons for his nomination, Achleitner said in the release.

BaFin Scrutiny

German financial watchdog BaFin has been conducting a preliminary assessment of Schuetz’s trading in Wirecard, including options on the shares around the time that SoftBank Group Corp. announced a plan to invest in the company in 2019, people familiar with the matter have said. The SoftBank deal helped bolster confidence in the stock, which had come under pressure at the time from reports in the Financial Times alleging accounting irregularities.

Schuetz initially joined Deutsche Bank’s supervisory board as representative for Chinese conglomerate HNA Group, which was once one of the bank’s largest investors before gradually selling the stake as it ran into debt problems. Schuetz later bought the remaining stake from HNA before selling what was left at the end of last year.

“Mr. Schuetz has been a member of our supervisory board for four years and has made important contributions during this period,” Achleitner said in the press release Tuesday. “We thank him for his work and wish him well.”

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